Gearing up for a new week!

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Everything about this week challenges my “normal” schedule! We have been working hard to get things on a good rhythm for a few weeks now. Simple things……..like the kids staggered bed times. Wake up times. Meal times. And making healthier choices for those meals. My husband has been a HUGE help. Infact, he was the one that started the process by giving the kids a set bedtime and then reinforcing it. (isn’t that the hardest part? Reinforcing)

have extra soccer practices (5 days a week), 2 orthodontic and 1 dentist appointment, guests coming on Wednesday through Friday, and of course Valentines Day on Friday. Oh……..and I have to get the basement finished before Wednesday. By finished, I mean drywall putty, sanding and painting. I started it last night. It is always more work and takes longer than I think when I plan a project! Oh yeah, since we homeschool and that MUST be a priority (too much time off when we moved), I have a full work load planned for the kids and I pray that they will be able to complete a good deal of it independently! Did I mention that I am flying solo this week?? Yes, my husband has some work to do out-of-town.

My daughter and I ran to the store last night for some quick meals. I am trying to purchase quick, yet still healthy! Those icky frozen fish sticks that the kids love, did find their way into the cart. But otherwise, I think we are good to go on meals. They are planned out, so that I don’t have to think about them during our busy days and so that we refrain from ordering pizza because I was not prepared!

And now…………I’m off! Time to start the week. Before and after basement pics later this week for anyone who want to see a remodel on a tight budget! 🙂

Rediscovering Toys………….

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My 8-year-old and 13-year-old son are pretty ticked off at their dad and I. We have been very mean to them, but not in the way that they think. If you ask them, we have been “mean” by greatly limiting their time playing games on the computer/xbox/ipod. If you ask me, it was mean of us to ever let them become addicted in the first place. My boys are having to relearn how to play with toys. I know that for a 13-year-old that is especially hard because at this age they are giving up their “play” time. So let me re-phrase and say that we are having them relearn creativity. If you recall, CREATE was MY word for 2014. It was about being intentional in my life. I have taken this very seriously and in the process, come to the realization that electronics have taken over our lives. Quickly tired of fighting the resistance of limited technology, I turned to my local library for help! I found this book:

creative thinkeringWhat a gem!!!  From this book, I have learned that we are all born creative, but it is stolen from us when we entered school.  Consider the quote from the book referring to the day we entered school.  “We were not taught how to think; we were taught to reproduce what past thinkers thought.”

Yeah………….my kids think I am off my rocker.  My husband is fully supportive and really contributing to this change of life style.  And that’s what it must be………..a lifestyle change.  It is hard and right now, it hurts!  It is especially hard because it is winter.  It is easy to allow extra time on technology because it is winter, but in reality, there is SO MUCH TO DO indoors before the weather warms and we spend our days outside.  We have numerous puzzles to be put together.  We recently discovered the game of scrabble as a family.  We love playing Uno and Old maid.  My children are usually OK with playing family games.  The hard part is when they have to entertain THEMSELVES without technology.

I recently did a search for toys on Amazon.  With Valentines Day approaching, perhaps I will do a bit more than we normally do and buy an actual activity to help the kids with their transition.   Here are a few things I am considering:

DIY Rubber band bracelets loom kit lego friends Lego Minecraft The Village spirograph

DIY Rubber Band Bracelet loom kit, Lego friends, Lego minecraft and spirograph.  Remember spirograph??  I am also considering latch hook kids and lightbright.

We do have an entire library of children’s books and we make a weekly trip to our local library (which is beyond amazing).

Please, do share what your children enjoy playing with.  This process is tough on mom right now!  We do not have a peaceful home when everyone is in withdrawal  and bickering.  I have to teach my kids to be kids again!  I need help!  And coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  🙂

5 hours in the ER……Priceless!

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We don’t run to the doctor often.  Infact, I am a firm believer that God made our bodies to heal naturally and fight off infection.  One way to fight off infection is through fever.  So I don’t give (or take) ibuprofen at the first sign of fever.  I give it if my child is too uncomfortable to rest soundly or if the fever gets too high.  However, yesterday, I decided that two children needed to see a doctor and would probably need an antibiotic.  We have had an annoying virus for the past 2 weeks that doesn’t really keep us down, it just drains our energy.  Yesterday, it appeared to turn into strep throat and an ear infection.  So I called our doctor at 8 a.m.

But there seemed to be a problem with our insurance.  Their system wouldn’t allow them to make an appointment for me.  So my husband spent 2 hours out of his busy morning, getting it “fixed”.  We had to give copies of social security cards (because their computer system mysteriously at the copies they have had for years) and several forms worth of life history!  What a mess.  I was told to “try again” to make an apt after lunch.  Called at 1:00, and the changes were not showing up in the system so, no appointment.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  I was transferred to a patient service rep.  No answer and left a message.  UGH!  2:00 p.m.,  I called BACK to the appointment line and gave the poor girl my LONG sob story.  She got the insurance rep on the phone and confirmed that we were indeed covered.  However, she was sorry because there were no more appointments available for that day.  WHAT???  I started calling at 8:00 a.m.!  She recommends that we go to the ER.  We hurry to get to the ER before the schools let out, and hope that it will not be busy!  We walk in to standing room only.  I check in and they offer to call our doctor to see if they can see us because there will be at least a 3 hour wait at the ER.  I send my children to the hallway to wait, so we don’t end up with more than we came in with!  Honestly, if we were not expecting a big snow storm, I would not have taken them to the ER in the first place.  So we wait, first in the hallway and then in a “special room” where we were not exposed to all the contagious crud that we didn’t already have!

3.5 hours later, we meet our doctor.  It was WELL WORTH the wait.  He confirmed that my daughter had an ear infection and invited my older son and I to have a look at a healthy ear vs an inflamed ear.  I told him that we homeschooled and this was the most interesting science lesson we have had in a while.  He looked up and said, “We homeschool, too!”  I should have known!  We share the same views about giving medications, which is amazing because most ER docs just quickly write a script and send you on your way.  Unfortunately, he only works in emergency medicine, so we can’t transfer to his practice.  I would have in a heart beat!

The best part of the visit, was when he shared with us that his 13 year old daughter was taking online high school ap courses offered by our state University.  I did not know this was an option.  I looked it up last night and it is now a very real possibility for my 13 year old for next year.  I had previously found courses offered at the local career center, but they actually came from the high school.   This ER trip, in spite of the long wait, was definitely worth it!!  It may seem like a small thing, but God puts people into our lives for a reason.  Maybe HE is the one that zapped our info out of the system, so that we had to go to the ER.  🙂

Hospitality…..or the lack of

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Hospitality is not something that I think of often.  It is something that we do……often, but I have never given it much thought.  Until, that is, my family was the recipient of a lack of hospitality.  I am not one to have my feelings hurt easily.  I don’t “do” drama.  But when you drive several hours to see someone who asks you to please make sure that you eat before you arrive………….WHAT???  Who does that?

Am I wrong?  Is this the new “normal”?  Maybe I am just being overly sensitive.  Our family is just different, I guess.  We have company often.  We invite our friends, my husbands co-workers, our neighbors to share a meal.  We extend a standing invitation to our family if they want to travel here.  Sometimes money is tight, but I can make a huge pot of potato soup and cornbread for just pennies a serving.  We seldom have fancy dinners when we have company.  I just offer them whatever we are planning to have that night.  Sometimes it is burgers on the grill, sometimes baked chicken and mashed potatoes, once it was even leftovers!  😉

In trying to convince myself that my feelings should not be hurt by the refusal of hospitality, I ask myself WHY we invite others into our home.  I don’t really know……………we just do.  It feels right.  It is fun.  It exposes our children to many types of people and they learn to interact with adults on various levels.  It is kind.

When my husband and I were newly weds, he mentioned that he would like to invite one of his co-workers over.  A week later, I received a phone call from the co-workers wife (whom I had never met), asking what she could bring this weekend.  Yep, you guessed it.  My husband had extended the invitation and forgot to let me in on it!  I wish I could say it was the last time it happened, but um……nope!

One year we had 2 soldiers (that we had never met before), one from Hawaii and one from Texas to our home for Thanksgiving dinner.  They are still friends today and we recently received a wedding invitation from one of them.  They enrich our lives.  People enrich our lives when we choose to interact with them on a personal level.

Ok, no more whining.  I’m over it!

 

Wrapping up another week!

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This is our 8th year of home education.  8 years………as I type that, I can hardly believe it.  I actually went back and recounted……..twice.  It seems that after 8 years of doing the same thing, one should be considered an expert, doesn’t it?  Well, I’m not.  Not in any way.  Each day, each year, each child is so very different.  It was much easier when I had only one child at home to teach.  Two was a challenge.  And three was just about more than I could handle.  It wasn’t the children themselves.  It was the amount of planning, learning styles, grade levels and individual personalities that almost drove me to visit the board of education to discuss enrolling my children. Just kidding.  Sort of.   I discussed my frustrations with my husband.  I prayed about it.  And decided to try implementing some changes and then we had an amazing week!!

It started when I dug out some magazines that were given to us by a dear friend of mine.  I had planned to pull them one by one according to the subject I was teaching, but when my children saw them, they just went crazy with excitement.  They spent hours this week pouring through the magazines, Zoobooks and Discovery Kids while shouting out, “Hey mom, did you know………?”  They also used the colorful pictures as art inspiration and drew/painted them.

magazines

lunch break

We dug out all the fun, messy art supplies this week.  We used water colors, acrylic paint, stencils and canvases.  My oldest son used his afternoon “creative time” (that is what we call the time after school and before they are allowed to use electronics) to paint his Warhammer soldiers.

On Wednesday, my little princess was feeling pretty crummy.  She ended up in tears when I asked her to complete a page in her spelling book and that NEVER happens.  She ended up spending most of the day in MY bed, listening to books on her Nook, playing with her stuffed animals that she hauled in, and resting.  A WONDERFUL resource to keep the younger kids busy and learning when you can’t sit right by them is Tumble Books.  Our local library has a subscription, so I get to use their log in and my daughter listens to numerous storybooks being read to her!  She loves it.  (so do I)

sick day tumble books

On Thursday, we decided to get out of the house for a few hours and had school at the library.  The kids breezed through their work and then went off to find books for the week.  We may start doing this once a week!  Another idea, would be to have school at our local Starbucks.  Kinsley went into the children’s department about 10 minutes before the boys were finished with their work.  When I walked around the corner to check on her, she was sitting at a table reading a book aloud!  She is a very reluctant reading.  It just has not come easy for her like it did for my boys.  So I was thrilled to not only see her, but hear her reading!

Kinsley reading

boys library

Today we tried something a little different.  We had a great result, so we will do it again next week!  We had only half a day of school work (math, spelling, reading and Hunter had a history test) and we spent the rest of the day cleaning.  We straightened, vacuumed and dusted bedrooms, scrubbed the bathrooms, deep cleaned the kitchen, dining room and living room.  Everything sparkles and shines!  And the best part is we have it done before the weekend, so we can spend more time relaxing!

Beyond an 8-3 education

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I have been on a journey of consideration the last few weeks.  Frustrated by my lack of motivation which has carried over to my children.  I have started to realize that I simply don’t expect enough from them.  My husband has pointed that out from time to time over the last year, but I tend to pull the mommy card and coddle them.  I should have listened because he was right!

I spent the last couple of weeks going through all of the bookmarked sites on my computer regarding education.  You know, the ones we don’t have time to look at right then, so we tuck them away for another day that never seems to come.  Well, my day finally came (several days, actually) where I stole an hour here and there to organize and check out these websites.  I thought I would share the one I used last night with my 13-year-old.  I will be visiting often.

http://www.c-spanclassroom.org/

I printed off a worksheet and an essay question based for him to fill out at he watched the State of the Union last night.  He expressed concern that it was “boring” and he wouldn’t understand it anyway.  But you know what?  He filled out the worksheet listing the topics and proposed plans of action AND he had a discussion with his dad and I afterward.  We tried to send him to bed, but he asked if he could continue watching the comments and discussion for a bit longer.  Be still my heart!!!  Why, OF COURSE, you can!!

 

hunter watching state  What in the world happened to my picture?   The TV should be on top, not behind his head.  Geesh.  I guess I need to work on figuring out how to do this.

 

I had originally told the kids that they could watch 30 minutes of TV during their lunch break as long as it was somewhat educational (read, NO SPONGEBOB).  They record Cut Throat Kitchen and usually watch that.  However, I tried serving their lunch at the dining room table instead of at the bar.  They didn’t seem to mind, so I turned on a video that I wanted them to watch about Galileo.  Best decision that I made all day!  Because that 5 minutes video let to a discussion and more videos of several topics………Neptune, Aristotle, Italy, and eventually the space shuttle The Challenger.  It was a great discussion that held the interest of ALL of my students (6,8 and 13) and that is not an easy task.

lunch break video Galileo

I should also share that the discussion about Galileo started from this resource:  http://members.enchantedlearning.com/activitycalendars/

It is an EASY way to get social studies and/or science into your day on a regular basis and it requires little planning.  I started using this because I felt that there was just so much information that we were missing that I felt my kids would enjoy.  After we become familiar with a person or event, we sometimes follow-up with library books or videos depending on their interest level.

I love it when we have post worthy days!  I wish it happened everyday!  I’ll take it when I can get it though and will share whatever resources made it happen!

Have a GREAT Wednesday!

 

 

 

Wait! We didn’t get a weekend!

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When I think “weekend”, I think relaxation. At least a little rest and relaxation would be nice, but this weekend had none of that!
I already shared that we traveled 4 hours down and back to my hometown to see my family on Saturday. We got in at 11 p.m. last night and left at 9:30 this morning to head to another town about 1 hr 30 minutes from here for my 8 year olds soccer game. He played goalie for the first time EVER and he did a GREAT job! On our way home this evening, we received a text inviting him to play on the U10 travel team in the Spring! We are so proud of him! We got home about 6:30 with a carry out dinner and I immediately started planning our studies for next week. I am working toward better time management so we do not have to do anymore spelling tests in the car! We didn’t have time to finish everything on Friday, so my oldest student took his test on the way to the soccer tournament today!

12 hours in the car

Jarrett soccer

kinsley slide

While I am very, very tempted to take the day off tomorrow, it just isn’t going to happen. We have SO MUCH to accomplish in order to earn our Spring Break trip to Florida with my dear friend Nicole and her children.  It is amazing how hard we can work when we know there is a reward at the end!  We are even adding in Spanish and Hunter will start his ACT prep.  He is only in the 7th grade, but I found a wonderful opportunity for him to take Freshman English online next year from our local career center.  I want to utilize this resource NOW while it is available to us!  They also offer Algebra I and II and Geometry.  I think he can do it.  I think it will push him, and challenge him greatly, but I have recently realized that I do not expect enough from him.  He is capable of so much more.

Speaking of expecting more…………my husband and I made a tough decision this weekend. (When you spend 12 hours in the car together, you have lots of quality time to talk!)  We decided that there will be no television or electronic games of any sort between the hours of 8 and 3 on Sunday through Friday. It has become too easy to have these distractions and breaks that take way to long because they are “checking their stuff” online!  I was leaning for no electronics Monday through Friday, but my husband thought we should start with an 8-3 timeline and see how it goes.  We told the kids and believe it or not, there were no negotiations, or whining that occurred.  We will see how it goes tomorrow when they get up and try to turn on the television.  I’m sure I will be the “meanest mom ever”.  That’s ok……………..I’ve held that title for several years now!  🙂

How many days until the next weekend?  Oh wait…………..we have soccer out-of-town then, too!.  Sigh…………